Making sure that your company is secure and protected has never been more important as technological advances continue to create new avenues for serious cyber attacks. Computer resources are becoming more powerful and available, resulting in more pervasive and complex computer threats. Companies have to be extra careful and build their defences both against external and insider threats.
In some cases, internal threats may pose an even greater risk than external ones as they are usually harder to detect and hidden in plain sight. As remote work and working on mobile devices become progressively more common, there is an increased danger of insider threats since working away from the office’s secure network weakens the security control of the company, expands the internet perimeter, and potentially opens doors to malware spread. In order to mitigate these threats and enhance insider security, businesses need to implement a combination of traditional data loss prevention tools with user behaviour analytics and data classification methods. Having a more holistic approach to data loss prevention is critical in ensuring insider security and protection of vital information.
What is an insider threat?
Insider threats are security risks such as fraud, theft of intellectual property or trade secrets, unauthorised trading, espionage, or IT infrastructure sabotage that originate from within an organisation. Current or former employees, contractors, business partners, or anyone else inside the defined enterprise network security perimeter who have or had legitimate access to the company’s network systems, data or premises may use that access to compromise and misuse the confidentiality of sensitive information or privileged accounts within the network.
The different types of insider threats are defined by the specific intent and motivation of the insider. Malicious insiders are purposeful in gaining access to protected databases and stealing sensitive information to disrupt operations, whereas a compromised one may have had their access stolen from them without them realising it. In contrast, a careless employee may accidentally or inadvertently create vulnerabilities within the security process of an organisation due to a lack of awareness.
As remote working and usage of smart devices in the working environment proliferates, the risk of insider threats is heightened since security control is weakened. Employees who do not normally have access to company systems now have authorised access using potentially unsecured networks, opening doors to malware spread and increasing exposure of sensitive information to the public either purposefully or accidentally. As a result, there is a necessity to implement comprehensive software and identify possible insider threats as soon as possible to protect the company’s valuable assets and prevent dangerous data breaches.
How to protect corporate assets against insider threats?
One of the most common data protection solutions is with traditional data loss prevention (DLP) tools that use a combination of standard data security measures such as signature matching, file tagging or structured data fingerprinting, intrusion detection and firewalls to protect its data. This type of data-centric solution, however, is not enough to protect a corporate’s insider security as it has limited capacity to detect anomalies outside the perimeter of the existing network. With remote working and usage of smart devices, the area of which DLP can build a watchful fortress and protect information becomes significantly weakened and easily penetrable.
As a data-centric solution, it focuses primarily on data rather than the user. It cannot distinguish the user’s intent or understand the context of the data. This means that harder-to-spot threats such as insider sabotage, privilege manipulation, social engineering can slip through the cracks. Malicious insiders can take advantage of the predetermined rules of the DLP and exploit ways to allow access to vital information without raising any red flags. Without the ability to determine the intent or context of the information, insider threats can work around traditional DLP tools. That is why in order to effectively heighten insider security, companies have to supplement these traditional DLP tools with other types of methods such as data classification and governance solutions or user behaviour analytics and have a more holistic approach to insider security.
Identifying where and what are the valuable and sensitive information within the organisation is step one. Increasing the visibility of these assets enhances the capability to detect out-of-the-norm malicious or accidental insider threat activity. Utilise data classification and governance solutions such as Titus, Bolden James and Varonis to give context around valuable data. With advanced data classification software, organisations can automatically discover important content and combine data categorisation with security labelling, making it easier to lock down on overexposed data and remediate security vulnerabilities. Data classification and categorisation helps to manage the big data by identifying the context and content of the data beyond the security domain while ensuring data governance. Security labelling of data according to its sensitivity makes sure that the data is protected appropriately. By complementing DLP solutions with these types of data classification tools, organisations can better govern and control their data while streamlining its operational performance.
Companies can also choose to apply user behaviour analytics in conjunction with DLP tools to gain insight into user activities. By analysing user behaviour on networks and other systems, a baseline of behaviour for users and entities is created, allowing for detections of anomalies and malicious behaviour. The baseline is done by first collecting data on normal behaviours and activities via log data or agents installed on IT systems which are then analysed for patterns. An analysis engine identifies anomalies and prioritises them to pinpoint security incidents. Integrating other security tools and IT systems with user behaviour analytics can allow for automated actions in response to specific security incidents. In other words, using user behaviour analytics, the scope of insider threat management becomes more expanded. Corporations can easily discover compromised accounts, identify malicious insider threats and privileged account abuse, and monitor cloud security and IoT devices. The additional capability of cloud and IoT device monitoring is crucial in combating the weaknesses of just using traditional DLP tools. User behaviour analytics have the added benefit of leveraging machine learning, making it possible to detect threats that have never been seen before and learn from big data sets.
Insider security by nature is not just a technology issue. It involves human nature. As such, it is important for a corporate security program to implement a holistic approach when building its insider security. It is not enough to simply rely on data-centric DLP tools to protect sensitive data. Supplement traditional DLP tools with data classification, data categorisation, and governance solutions as well as user behaviour analytics to gain a better understanding of the vulnerable assets that you own, increase the visibility of the data, and have the capability to detect and identify accidental or malicious insider threats. A combination of these types of software can help to detect, identify, and prevent potential insider threats effectively.
As a recognised technical specialist in information security and premier provider of information infrastructure management solutions in the Asia Pacific market, Argentra has experience in IT security solutions, security risk consulting and developing custom security software that achieves your business objectives. With our implementation services, information security solutions that include DLP tools, and security assessments, we can help your corporation and design solutions to better protect any confidential information. Contact us here to learn more about information security or for our consultation services.